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Men's tennis team prepped for NCAA title run in 2010

Jan. 20, 2010

Jed Dean | Photo editor
Men's tennis coach Matt Knoll stands in front of the decorated trophy case. The men's tennis team has won the Big 12 regular season title for eight consecutive years, including the national championship in 2004.
Jed Dean | Photo editor
Senior Attila Bucko practices Tuesday afternoon at the Baylor Tennis Center. Bucko, along with Julina Bley are the 38th-ranked doubles team in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason rankings.

Jeremy Joseph

The Baylor Bears men's tennis team comes into the 2009-2010 season just as they left off--ranked nationally in the top 10.

The Bears, who ended last season ranked No. 8 in the nation, begin this season ranked sixth.

Head coach Matt Knoll believes this a fair reflection of this team.

"That is how we finished last year," Knoll said. "Teams are generally ranked in our system on how they finished last year."

Coach Knoll has put together one of the toughest schedules for his team again this year, and such was the case when the Bears opened their season with select athletes traveling to Los Angeles Jan. 15 for the Sherwood Invitational.

"Playing the most difficult schedule in the country really fits with the philosophy of our whole program that we are trying to push ourselves and stretch ourselves every day," Knoll said. "I think part of the process along with practicing hard and being in great shape is playing the best teams we can play."

Only the Bears, No. 1-ranked USC, No. 4-ranked UCLA and No. 9-ranked Stanford University were invited to participate at the event.

During conference play, the Bears will also face three opponents that are currently ranked in the top 25: No. 8-ranked Texas, No. 12-ranked Texas A&M University and No. 25-ranked Oklahoma State University. Meanwhile, Texas Tech University and the University of Oklahoma are in the top 50.

Eger, Hungary senior Denes Lukacs believes that this team ranks among the best he has been a part of.

"I think we have the best team since I've been here at Baylor, and I think we have a really high chance to finish at a high level with a NCAA championship," Lukacs said. "I feel like we have really good team chemistry. We're really close friends."

The Bears also believe that this is a team that could match the 2004 team's accomplishment of a national championship.

"This is a team that could be in the position to win it all but it's all up to the players in the end," Knoll said.

Kerville junior Jordan Rux echoed what the coach said

"I have a lot of confidence in our team right now," Rux said. "I think we can win it this year as long as everyone stays healthy and performs down the stretch."

Knoll, Lukacs and Rux all agreed that last weekend's tournament was full of tough teams, but by playing these teams, it gave the Bears a good way to get ready for the start of the season.

Lukacs who advanced to the singles title match of the tournament, fell to Stanfords sophomore Bradley Klahn in a 6-3, 6-4 match.

"It was a good tournament for everyone," Rux said. "It's not a huge deal for rankings right now, but it did help us get everyone ready for the season that really starts on Friday."

The Bears will continue play this week with matches against the University of Lousiana-Lafayette at 3 p.m. Friday and against the University of Florida at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Both matches will be at the Baylor Tennis Center.